NOT many child stars can comfortably claim to hold their own in Mzansi’s tough entertainment industry but Generations – The Legacy actress, Letoya Makhene (34), has proven to be the exception. Her rise to fame was tied to the success of her father, veteran musician, Blondie Makhene, who introduced her to music.
Over the years, she has continued to successfully re-invent herself and be her own woman. In an interview with Move!, Letoya opens up about the blessing of motherhood, being Tshidi on SABC1’s popular soapie and fame.
Being a mother has completely changed her life for the better. Letoya is a proud mother of four and would never trade this responsibility for anything.
“Motherhood has shaped and moulded my character. I could have just been Letoya, but I am their mother. They have really blessed me with a sense of living,” she says.
Her children are her motivation for everything she does. “I can live without a lot of things other people may wish they had but not my children because they make me whole,” Letoya says.
Fitness is an important part of who she is. After having four children, the youngest being a year old, Letoya is in good shape. Some people might say it is good genes, but she explains that it is pure hard work.
“I had to work hard to get this body that I have now. This time around, it was hard for me to get rid of the weight I picked up during pregnancy but it was all worth it,” says the talented actress.
Letoya was born into a musical and famous family. She might have been too young to understand what fame was all about but as she grew in the industry, she saw it all for herself.
“Fame is hard. It is not easy to be famous. While I am grateful and love what I do, being famous comes with its challenges like not having privacy,” she says.
Letoya admits that the foundation and teachings at home were always to remain humble and respectful and for that reason, fame was never something that went straight to her head and made her feel any better than the next person.
“Everyone goes through a hard time at some point in their lives and at times, you ask yourself, ‘When all the money and the fame is gone, who are you?’”
LETOYA'S WISHES FOR HER CHILDREN
The Makhene family has done well in prepping her for the entertainment industry and that is why her feature in the limelight has always been from an authentic place.
With all that’s said about fame, her father once tried to convince her not to pursue a career in entertainment because of its challenges. He soon realised that she was just not in it for fun, but it was an industry she was born for.
“With all that I know, should my children choose to be in this industry, I will support them just as my father did. Better yet, I will teach them the greatest lesson that they should carry themselves as a business,” she says. “I will never take away the fact that I am a Makhene but I am grateful that I am able to stand on my own in all the talents I have.”
On weekdays, viewers get to watch Letoya being Tshidi Phakade on Generations – The Legacy, a character she says drives her insane at times. Perhaps, it is the sneakiness in how Tshidi goes about getting what she wants that gets to her. In the same breath, there’s something about Tshidi’s inner strength that Letoya totally admires.
“She has been through a lot of abuse and fighting to achieve her goals. She has so much tenacity and has managed to singlehandedly build a name for herself in business,” she says.
Letoya finds pleasure in allowing her artistry to depict circumstances that other women might be going through in real life, after all, that is what being a creative is all about. While being on TV is something she loves, Letoya definitely enjoys playing the real-life roles of being a mother and a wife.
There are actors and actresses that have left the soapie, but Letoya is still going to be around for a while.
In February, she took a leap of faith and released a single titled, Qinisela, only a few months after giving birth. She says it has been a beautiful moment working with her father on her single.
“I am grateful to be able to work with my father whom I have not worked with in years. I am also grateful that I was able to release the song independently. No one will own my music but me. This is not only for my children, but it is also for me,” she says.